One recent Sunday morning we had a special guest Elizabeth and her daughter, Madison, in attendance. Sitting in the choir loft I observed that she was having some difficulty that was requiring her to leave to do something outside of the sanctuary, seemingly driven by the text feature of a cell phone.
Zula, one of God’s great gifts to the world, offers a children’s story each Sunday and this particular Sunday the group was joined by Madison. Referencing Ephesians Zula told a story of a young man who had difficulty controlling his anger and his grandfather who instructed him to go to the back fence each time he lost control and place a nail in the fence to represent his failure.
The young man followed the instructions and then asked what he was supposed to have learned with his effort. Grandfather told him he could now control his anger and each time he did he could remove a nail. When all of the nails were gone the young man again sought understanding of his effort. Grandfather explained that the hole left in the fence by the nails represented the hurt or pain he had caused people with his anger.
Zula gave each child a piece of wood with words from Ephesians Chapter 4 starting with verse 29... When you talk do not say harmful things, but say what people need-words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.
And from Chapter 31-32...Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
A small group went to lunch after church and I was privileged to sit across the table from Elizabeth, the young lady who was still dealing with that pesky text messaging that again took her away from the group while lunch orders were being placed. Upon returning with issues apparently resolved she was able to sit and enjoy the fellowship at the table.
At some point in the conversation she stopped and said “How Do They Know ?”
She began to describe the service and make special note of the children’s time and its impact on her morning activities even though she had missed the story. She explained that her anger had been escalating over the morning because associates had not completed tasks critical to the success of the afternoon. When she returned to the sanctuary from one of those calls, Madison was returning from the storytime with a piece of wood imprinted with words from the Bible about anger management.
Laughing I said that Jan, a close friend of hers also at the table and I had asked each other many times why every Sunday morning the messages seemed to be arrows aimed directly at our hearts.
The exchange was enjoyed so much that I retold the story several times over the next week and one day I was suddenly more aware of the answer to our question than I had ever been. It is not they who know but instead God who knows all and uses each and every one of us in his way to help others receive and understand the arrows that he sends our way.